15 Tips for Marketing Yourself
It can be hard out there for a freelance Web designer/developer. Finding consistent work with reasonable clients (who pay reasonably well), delivering work on time and up to expectations, keeping your skill set sharp and up-to-date — these are all daily concerns for freelance Web designers and developers. But following some key tips will make things easier.
Projected proportion of freelancers in the workforce by 2020 (1)
Get Your House in Order
You’re asking businesses to trust you with their websites, so yours had better be on-point. Make sure it can be viewed by many different types of users.
Global browser market share (2)
Chrome 32 20.67%
Safari 7 9.89%
Chrome 33 9.57%
Firefox 27 9.25%
Internet Explorer 11 5.79%
Firefox 26 4.80%
Internet Explorer 8 4.24%
Safari 6 3.73%
Android 4 3.50%
Internet Explorer 10 3.35%
What to Show People
Carefully curate your portfolio and website. Choose your favorites and include some narrative information about the project, maybe even testimonials if your clients are able to provide them.
Average salary for a Web designer (3)
Make Yourself Stand Out
Offering unique details about yourself (hobbies, areas of particular expertise, life experience) can help distinguish you from the faceless horde of Web designers and developers out there.
Provide a Peek Into Your World
Maintain a blog about your experiences in the freelance world and/or about the Web/design world at large. You may not be able to provide extreme details (your clients may ask you to sign non-disclosure agreements), but you can still engage with other designers or developers by talking about the common challenges everyone in the field faces.
Americans who read blogs (4)
Small businesses that blog have … (5)
… 55% more website visitors
… 102% more Twitter followers
… 126% higher lead growth
Good First Impressions
You have a business card, right? You might think it’s unnecessary in our online world, but you never know when you might run into someone who requires your services but doesn’t have time to put your contact info in their smartphone. Make it personal; design it with your tone and creative spark.
Business cards printed in the U.S. every day (6)
People hold on to color cards about 10 times longer on average than standard white cards. (6)
Develop an “elevator pitch,” a brief, conversational summary of what services you provide. And be ready to polish it on the spot, personalizing it depending on the person you’re talking to.
Know Your Target
Are you going to pursue work for small businesses? Startups? Nonprofits? Bands? Learn as much about their budgets and processes as you can. You need to be able to speak intelligently about what you can offer that’s unique to their experience and show that you understand their concerns.
Confidence is Key
Don’t undersell yourself. It’s natural for a lot of people to be self-deprecating, but be careful: If potential clients get the impression that you’re not confident in your abilities, they’ll begin to doubt that you can deliver what they’re asking.
Studies have shown that those with higher self-esteem have higher success early in their careers and steeper career success trajectories. (7)
Establish Your Value to a Client
Don’t just tell a client you’ll design a great website. Tell them what a great website will do for them. Better yet, show them. Offer case studies that show the impact on traffic and revenue that a great new website can provide.
94% of people cite website design as a reason not to trust a company. (8)
Attend industry events, join Internet message boards, connect with bloggers. Become “the guy” people think of when they hear someone has a need for Web design services.
61% of brands use LinkedIn as their primary professional networking site. (9)
Don’t Be Afraid to Fail
Say you want to land a major client, but you’re not sure they’re going to think you have the firepower to get the job done. That’s an intimidating situation. After all, it can be costly to prospect for new business. But don’t let the fear of being turned down dissuade you from pursuing the project. Make your best proposal with confidence; if it is rejected, at least you gave it a shot.
Provide a Little Extra
Providing small extra touches can reap rewards down the road when a client remembers that you went the extra mile for them. It could mean more business with that particular client and ramps up the chances that they’ll spread the word about working with you.
55% of people would pay extra to guarantee better service. (10)
Trends are constantly emerging in design, and new technology is constantly changing the face of coding languages. It need not be expensive to ensure you have the knowledge you need. Your network of professional contacts may be able to help out there, giving you tips and advice. Consider continuing education; many options now exist for free and cheap online courses.
Massive open online courses offered (in all topics, not just tech-related ones)
Coursera (11) 600+
Udacity (12) 36
EdX (13) 150+
Quality, Not Quantity
Take on new challenges only if you’re sure you can achieve the goals the client has set forth. Resist any desire by your client to cut corners or do things for cheaper than is reasonable. Remember: If your work is top-notch, people will be willing to pay a premium for it.
Emailing a client an update about their project doesn’t cost you any extra, but it goes a long way to making them feel like they’re getting their money’s worth. Poor customer service can be poison to a service provider.
A customer is 4 times more likely to consider a competitor if their concern is service-related rather than price- or product-related.